Asset managers need to adapt to post-pandemic environment
In-person interaction and headcount for specialist sales roles expected to increase
22 Jul 2021 | The Asset

As institutional asset managers adapt to the “new normal”, in-person interaction and headcount for specialist sales roles are expected to increase. In view of Covid-19, asset owners put opportunities on hold, temporarily slowing sales and redemptions. By the end of 2020, however, most opportunities were back on track, according to Cerulli Associates in its latest report on US institutional marketing and sales organizations.

Its survey finds that 35% of asset managers report that travel bans due to pandemic were a significant challenge in client acquisitions last year. “Travel is key to the institutional sales and marketing process. Prospecting and marketing programmes would need to be overhauled significantly should travel not return and virtual meetings be the future of institutional sales,” says associate director Laura Levesque.

In-person meetings (89%) and events (63%) are important marketing channels for institutional managers. Nearly all (94%) have specialists, salespeople, and other subject matter experts speak at conferences, and another 72% of firms polled sponsor these events and trade shows.

For asset management firms that choose to reduce in-person appearances, careful thought should go into any changes that need to be made to marketing programmes, especially those dependent on content distribution.

“While content distribution didn’t have an effect on asset managers during times of travel restriction, those that choose to participate less going forward may be at a competitive disadvantage to those that return completely to pre-pandemic practices,” Levesque notes.

In addition to assessing in-person meetings and events, distribution teams will need to evaluate staffing requirements. According to the research, 47% of firms expect to increase their overall headcount, citing increased demand from clients and prospects.

Distribution executives with specializations in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies or outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) providers will be sought after.

As the industry emerges from the pandemic, managers will need to deploy both technology and resources that optimize client relationships, Cerulli says.

“While institutional teams were able to quickly pivot and adjust to the remote working environment, technology can only go so far in providing the experience of face-to-face interactions,” says Levesque. “For those that choose to reduce the number of in-person meetings or cut down on conference attendance, it would be wise to pay special attention to the efforts and needs of RFP and marketing teams.”

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